COMMITTEE SUMMARY, RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Part I outlines the task presented to the Committee on Military Nutrition Research (CMNR) by scientists at the Military Nutrition and Biochemical Division, U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM). This task was to provide information on the impact of nutritional status on immune function, assess the current state of knowledge on how military stresses (including food deprivation) unfavorably influence immune status, and evaluate ongoing research efforts of USARIEM scientists to study immune status in Special Forces troops. As part of the charge to CMNR the Army posed the following five questions:
- What are the significant military hazards or operational settings most likely to compromise immune function in soldiers?
- What methods for assessment of immune function are most appropriate in military nutrition laboratory research, and what methods are most appropriate in field research?
- Interventions to sustain immune function can alter the actions, nutritional costs, and potential changes in levels of proinflammatory cytokines. The proinflammatory cytokines have been proposed to decrease lean body mass, mediate thermoregulatory mechanisms, and increase resistance to infectious disease by reducing metabolic activity in a way that is similar to the reduction seen in malnutrition and other catabolic conditions. What are the benefits and risks to soldiers of such interventions?
- What are the important safety and regulatory considerations in the testing and use of nutrients or dietary supplements to sustain immune function under field conditions?
- Are there areas of investigation for the military nutrition research program that are likely to be fruitful in the sustainment of immune function in stressful conditions? Specifically, is there likely to be enough value added to justify adding to operational rations or including an additional component?
In Chapter 1, the committee presents an overview of the project using relevant background materials and the proceedings of the workshop held on May 20–21, 1996. The committee then reviews the Army's Ranger studies as well as other Army Operational Training Program studies which have evaluated the effects of multiple physical, psychological, and nutritional stressors on immune system function, and provides a summary of the topics presented at the workshop.